Now that the new code is in effect, we’ll be spotlighting the zoning code every Monday (or a day late – thanks anonymous) in our “Get in the Zone” series. It’s that time of year when the suffocating humidity starts to abate and our minds turn to pumpkin spice lattes, mums, and comfy wool sweaters. What do these things have to do with the zoning code? Today’s Q&A topic: Urban Agriculture
Q: BAAAAA! Baa. Bleet! Philly. Baaa! BAA! Baa. Shaun.
Thankfully, we have two Planning Commission staffers that are fluent in sheep. Translation: ”I’m super psyched about the new urban agriculture use categories in the zoning code. Philly’s doing a great job in promoting urban agriculture. Why don’t you do a blog post about it? Thanks – Shaun the Sheep”
A: Great idea, Shaun (BTW, we love your show!)
The new zoning code has an entire land use category just for urban agriculture. There are four sub-uses that fall within this category: animal husbandry, community gardens, market or community-supported farm, and horticulture nurseries and greenhouses. You can do one or more of these uses in almost all of the base zoning categories.
We heard from the public that the new code should specifically address and encourage urban agriculture, and now it does.
Q: We get into a lot of close shaves in England. Should we think about relocating to Philadelphia? (All questions will be translated for the remainder of the blog post)
A: Since you are a sheep, we would recommend looking for a base zoning district that allows animal husbandry. Animal husbandry involves the feeding, housing, and care of farm animals for private or commercial purposes, subject to applicable Philadelphia Code regulations on farm animals (§10-101(8) and §10-112).
Animal Husbandry is allowed by-right in all the industrial districts except IRMX (industrial/residential mixed use) and I-P (industrial port). We have some lovely industrially zoned lands near both the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers.
Q: I’m an entrepreneurial kind of sheep. Can we sell our products?
A: Urban agriculture sales are permitted on the same lot as the urban agriculture use or in locations where retail sales are an allowed use (permitted by the base zoning). So for all of the uses animal husbandry, community gardens, market or community-supported farm, and horticulture nurseries and greenhouses, you sell what you produce. (We hope you’re thinking yarn sales!)
Sales must be incidental in nature for community gardens, since the community garden use is defined as an area managed and maintained by a group of individuals to grow and harvest food crops or non-food crops (e.g., flowers) for primarily personal or group consumption or for donation.
A market or community-supported farm is an area managed and maintained by an individual or group of individuals to grow and harvest food crops or non-food crops for sale or distribution that is not incidental in nature. Horticulture nurseries and greenhouses involve the propagation and growth of plants in containers or in the ground for wholesale or retail sales and distribution.
Q: Cracking! I can’t wait to tell the whole flock about this. We’re quite a hungry bunch, so I think we’ll need some community gardening space to supplement our usual grass diet. Can we community garden anywhere in the city?
Practically. Community gardens are allowed in all the residential districts by right, as well as in all the commercial and industrial districts (except industrial-port). Market or community-supported farms are allowed in almost all the same districts as community gardens except you’ll need a special exception for RSD-1, 2 and 3 (residential single-family dethatched districts) and variance for CMX-4 and 5 (downtown commercial).
Q: One last thing, sheep don’t have a lot of cash. Think of us as a wooly non-profit. Is there any way Philadelphia can help us with the costs of our urban agriculture dreams?
Yes, with the City’s new “Policies for the Sale and Reuse of City Owned Property” a community garden may be considered for a discounted sale of surplus city-owned land. If you’re not ready to purchase land yet, you could also get a community garden license. You’ll need to be sponsored by a local organization and this agreement can last up to five years!
We hope to see you and the whole flock in Philly soon!